Renault Sport Formula 1 Team Managing Director Cyril Abiteboul was pleased with the squad’s performance at this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix, which he says shows clear signs of progress.
Although Jolyon Palmer was taken out in an unfortunate incident on the first lap, driver Nico Hulkenberg finished the race in eighth place, having qualified in the same place. The German was just one second away from catching Sahara Force India F1 Team driver Esteban Ocon at the end of the race, having chased the Frenchman down until fuel management became critical.
“Another step forward for the team this weekend, not only confirming that we are regular top ten qualifiers but also showing that our race pace has improved relative to our qualifying performance too.
“Today was a really exciting race for Nico as we ran a reactive strategy after a poor first lap, trying to take the fight to the Force India cars as best we could.
“With an unusual strategy, we kept the pressure on them for most of the race, but eventually Nico had to manage his fuel and could not really threaten Esteban. We did everything we could at a circuit we knew would not be one of the most favourable for our package.”
Knowing they are there or thereabouts with Force India, who currently hold fourth place in the constructors standings, gives the Enstone based team huge confidence, and Abiteboul is hopeful for the upcoming races.
The Spanish Grand Prix not only bring about a substantial upgrade for the RS17, but it also signals the start of the European leg of the calendar, which will see them visit tracks that should be much better suited to the Renault package.
“Our overall performance gives us strong optimism as we head to tracks which should be more suited to our car, especially as we have a healthy development program lined-up.”